By Patricia Faulhaber | Photo by Thomas Skernivitz
She was raised vegan and learned healthy ways to take care of her skin and her body. Her philosophy is what’s good for the inside of the body is also good for the outside.
“A person’s skin is a telltale sign of when he or she is sick. The skin glows when you’re healthy,” Gates says.
“I’ve been making soap for over 13 years, and I do a lot of research on the botanicals that go into my products. I talk with local farmers at North Union Farmer’s Market, and I do a lot of reading. This is really my art,” she says.
After she took a soap-making class to learn the manufacturing process, she began giving her handmade soaps as gifts, which eventually led to selling the products. Gates makes a variety of soaps and other body products fresh daily using botanicals she buys locally.
Gates sells her products at her newest store location in the 5th Street Arcade at 530 Euclid Ave., #35, in Cleveland. Shoppers can also find her products at the North Union Farmer’s Market in Shaker Square. In addition to the colorful and healthy soaps, Simply Betsy’s product line includes body butter, lip balms, body oil, and deodorants.
“Since our products are made fresh daily, our product line changes according to what is in season in Northeast Ohio. When mangos are in season, I make mango soap. Tomatoes are coming into season now, so we’ll be making soaps using tomatoes. The tomatoes are high in vitamin C and are just really good for your complexion; it helps to get rid of excess oils. We use frankincense and myrrh in the tomato bars, too,” Gates says.
Making her products fresh daily is just one factor that sets Simple Betsy apart from others selling similar product lines. Another unique feature is her company is one of a few that makes soap from kale. Gates loves to make the kale bar and loves to use it.
“The kale bar smells incredible, and it’s green. It’s just awesome to bathe with. It is high in antioxidants and vitamins A, C, and K,” she says.
Gates also loves being a part of the 5th Street Arcade. While visiting shops owned by some friends one afternoon, she was given a tour of the venue and felt it was a great match for her business.
“The 5th Street Arcade has been an incredible location for us. My family has all gotten involved and they help with the store while I take products to the farmer’s market,” Gates says.
Owning her own business has become a journey for the entire family including her five children. Gates says her husband lost his job a few years ago, and at one point the family became homeless for a time.
The family ‘s finances began to turn around when Gates began selling her handmade soaps. The entire family has gotten involved, including her four daughters and son. They help Gates in a number of ways, such as running the store, managing the accounting, and generating marketing ideas.
“We don’t believe in quitting. When you keep working and working on something, it will work out to your benefit. There have been challenges to being a female and a minority business owner. As a small business, people think you have a lot of money. You have to have tough skin, and the experience of being homeless taught me how to keep going. It takes a lot of patience to make it work, but the sky is the limit when you own your own business,” Gates says.
The holiday season is fast approaching and Gates says handmade, healthy soaps make great gifts. They are the gift of healthy, beautiful skin.
For more information: facebook.com/SimplyBetsy